Last chance to enter The Hackaday Prize.

The Design Challenge Winner!


I’ll keep this short and sweet. Fabienne, Eliot and I unanimously chose [Nuxie1]‘s entry as the winner. His board is a nicely done USB PIC prototyping board. [Nuxie1] gets some sweet prizes and some bragging rights. Congratulations [Nuxie1]!

It seems that our tips line has been screwed up for the last week or so. If you’ve got something good, don’t be afraid to re-submit it.

Comments

  1. chupa says:
  2. David says:

    Very cool, congratulations.

    This is a cool and useful project, done well. Good win!

  3. Fleino says:

    looks oddly the same hey?

  4. Wolf says:

    not that this isnt a well designed and built hack, but, come on, what differentiates this from any of the many other usb dev boards?

  5. chupa says:

    this really is a let down…. how about putting all the entry’s up and letting the users vote on it. like an exhibition match….

  6. Fleino says:

    It looks very like the other one hey?

  7. nuxie1 says:

    Firstly, a big thanks to Hackaday.

    Mine and a lot of other USB PIC designs are based on the Microchip USB Bootloader, which requires two buttons for bootloading. The other one linked uses the 18F4550 40pin chip, which in SMD is much harder to solder, and for DIP would not really fit in the size requirements. It also does not provide schematics for the pictured board.

    Mine leaves all of PORTB free for a byte sized I/O, whereas others need one or more PORTB pins for USB Bootloading. I don’t see it being “oddly the same”, they use different chips, laid out differently, have different I/O connections, different power connections, different software.

    I also worked hard on the design to have NO vias, and single sided so it is easy for anyone to make at home. Others I have seen all have lots of jumpers/vias, or are double sided.

    I have used it as a base for a number of projects. The Microchip C compiler makes it very easy to prototype things, the full PORTB I/O makes it easy to connect ‘data line hungry’ projects, and USB makes it easy to communicate with the PC.

    I realise there are similar designs out there, but I have spent a lot of time designing mine from the ground up, with the features I have outlined above and on my website which I hope differentiates it from other designs. So I get quite offended by comments that it is “oddly the same” as other ones.

  8. Wonder Bread says:

    personally i wish that something more innovative than a pic programmer would have won, since they’re pretty much a dime-a-dozen these days.

    either way, congrats.

  9. neggies says:

    we want voting!

    –neg

  10. maros says:

    I have the same opinion as wonder bread.

  11. Congratulations, nuxie1.

    Perhaps you should note some of the qualifications you just posted about in the introduction page for your project. It is understandable, I think, for people not to immediately recognize all of the features. (especially neophytes such as myself)

    I like your idea of capitalizing on the extra space to use it as a business card… a bit expensive for that purpose… but also maybe a good way to get the job. :)

  12. steve says:

    Come on guys, compared to the rest its really a good project. Its useful, small, not too many parts and very well documented. Don’t be so greedy!

  13. akmixdown says:

    well done, nuxie1, well done. What I suspect most people here do not understand is that it is the fine details that take up all the time in a project. As you said, minimizing vias or jumpers in a layout, clean design… these things all take thought and time. Whipping together a hack that fits on a card is the easy part. Making it clean is a much larger task.

    I just did an 8-layer 5×7-index-card-sized design and I can assure everyone here… the schematic is the easy part. The layout was heavily dependent on parts placement, and manufacturability relies extensively on choosing parts with compatible footprints, attention to RoHS standards (at least for BGAs, I learned that you can’t mix RoHS-compliant BGAs and non-compliant ones on the same side without extra costs), board density issues for proper reflow and probably a dozen other things. It’s the attention to detail, as what nuxie1 has shown here, that makes a project great.

    Yes, voting would be a nice feature, but I would prefer to have the final decision left to a panel of judges who takes the popular vote into account but can also take into account issues that the population is likely not even looking at. “Cool” factor only gets you so far, and it shouldn’t get you top prize.

  14. minimike says:

    congrats nuxie that looks like a really tidy board and I can see it having many uses and it doesn’t look like a backyard project but a well finished professional product.
    Well done !

  15. weirdguy says:

    if they start selling kits of these, I’d buy one! Seems very helpful and fun to make.

  16. Jevy says:

    Well done Nuxie! You did work hard and it shows. It’s a basic board that everyone needs. The requirements stated that it needed to be useful and it is. Congrats!

  17. Wolf says:

    to nuxie1: I doubt any of the commenters would deny that is an extrmely well done piece of hardware, being both functional, and within the average hobyists skill level. Personally I just would’ve prefered something more original.

    excelent work in any case

  18. There are several of these type of things out there – not to diminish the winner at all, as it is extremely well done.

    If you want to buy one of these (very, very similar to the winner) you can go to SparkFun (www.sparkfun.com) and order one of my UBW boards (look under PIC development). They’re $25. The nice thing is that it’s pre-built (a kit version is coming very soon that will be less expensive) and the software that comes with it is super easy to use (i.e. you don’t need to write any code to get it running). The code that I’ve written for it makes it appear as a virtual COM port on your computer, and you can send it many different commands to do lots of different things – like it can turn all 19 I/O pins into 19 separate RC servo outputs, etc.

    Main UBW website is http://greta.dhs.org/UBW

    *Brian (EmbeddeMan)

  19. Oh, one other quick thing – I believe the USB spec says that you can have a max of 10uF bulk cap across +5 -> Gnd from the USB connector. I made the same mistake of 100uF on my design – SparkFun corrected it for me when they went to production.

    *Brian

  20. Tom huveners says:

    what exactly does it do?

  21. koft says:

    I waited all this time for that? Lame. Thats not a hack, thats a how-to, and a simple one at that. Lame.

    Props to the guy who submitted it though. Looks nice, but this isn’t what I would have expected from a hackaday winning entry.

  22. neonkoala says:

    Nice entry however not the original kind of thing I was expecting, I mean looking at the quality of the other entries which had things such as the games console I was expecting something totally innovative but this is just like the other programmers out there. I mean congrats to the guy that made it, just I was hoping for something more interesting.

  23. strider_mt2k says:

    Congrats to the winner!

    I’ve enjoyed reading about all of the entries.

  24. flacman says:

    im really disappointed about the winner of this contest, it sould be something different and innovative. i think it muts be a hundred of this boards online, its simpy boring and useless, come on on half memory on boot load and only one port avalilable, what can it do? and wheres the logo integration with the design?

  25. Undefinition says:

    Well, if you look at the contest rules, it was to DESIGN a useful PC board the size of a business card. That’s not very big, so the options of things you can actually do with it are limited. I think a lot of commenters forgot the original rules of the contest and were just thinking Hack a Day was having a contest for THE ULTIMATE HACK.

    When you think about the rules for this contest and look at this winning entry it makes sense. This guy worked really hard to design a very logically laid-out PC board. He did a great job at what he set out to do, and followed the guidelines of the contest.

    Of course, to many of the readers of Hack a Day (and most average Joes on the street), if you handed them a PIC programmer, they’d say, “What is it?” And then when you told them what it is, they’d still ask, “What do I do with it?” On the other hand, if you cram an Xbox 360 into a laptop case, you’ve got people’s attention–and I think that’s the sort of thing a lot of people were expecting to see as a winner. Because, hey, let’s face it, for most of us, when we come here every day, we’re looking for some everyday object being used in some very unorthodox way!

  26. rokcrwl says:

    Excellent design, nice layout, clean project… but it’s not a “hack” as much as it is a “build”.

    I think I more expected the winning design to be a modification of an existing product with beyond-the-original-design results. Again, nice project and congrats but where’s the “I turned my Palm III into a brain scanning machine using toothpics and a 9v battery” hacks?

  27. Albert says:

    yar, a winner is not me :(
    o well, means i have to try harder next time. however i’ll take the giant bean bag if you don’t want it :D

    Congrats

  28. Mike W says:

    I apologize ahead of time for my less than supportive post, but I feel it needs to be added.
    As a Design Eng by day, I will say that I have reservations on this win. The design is very aesthetically pleasing. However, the designer mentions that they have eliminated via’s. Well what about the through hole components? For any effort of ‘via removal’ to merit any real recognition, all SM parts could have been used… SM parts are usually cheaper than TH anyway. 0805’s or at least 1206’s for the caps would have been surprisingly cheaper and still maintain effortless assembly.

    As for the layout, Microchip has a wonderful pinnout already, and from my experience, I don’t see any great effort needed to do what’s already fairly easy with this given pinnout. What about diode protection for interfacing to the outside world? Surely you won’t rely on the low current internal ones? The I/O’s on the chip won’t last long here.
    Also, I can’t remember off hand, but isn’t RA4 an open drain output? The schematic has this as driving an LED high (I could be wrong here). Also, the whole Port A in general will need pull ups, or hope an external device has pull-ups in order to input any data. Being used as analog input? Again, use protection scheme.
    Port B has weak pull ups that can be turned on (is the booter turning them on?) But they are week. Let’s hope nothing on the input loads them down.
    Now for the kicker, lets hope to high heaven’s that someone doesn’t actually connect a real RS-232 cable to the UART connection because there is no level translation.
    Again, sorry.

  29. Mike W says:

    I want to point out something, and perhaps someone could verify this, but, if I’m correct, this ‘win’ is not a valid as this entry breaks the rules of the contest.
    Specifically it says,
    “You can put whatever circuit you like on it. PIC
    programmer, JTAG interface, flux capacitor… but it has to work!”

    Now, if I’m right about RA4 being an open drain, and not capable of driving high, then the circuit, in fact, would NOT work. This would void the entry.

  30. nuxie1 says:

    Thanks Mike for trying in vain to discredit my entry. If you spent as much time researching as you did finding flaws you will see that on 18F PIC’s (or at least the ones I’ve used), RA4 is NOT an Open Drain. I have tested my design in both SMD and DIP version, and all pins function correctly as both input and outputs.

    I am working on a full SMD version, however as in the rules through hole components were preferred so it is easier to make. Hence why I have SMD and DIP PIC versions. Also, by vias I meant jumpers for a single sided board as well. Eliminating them means it is very easy to make at home through toner transfer or other methods. It is also hard to find small quantities (one or two) of SMD parts.

    The PIC has diode protection on all pins inbuilt, and as it is meant for general use most people will not need further protection. Same for the analog port, pull ups are not needed if it will be used as a digital I/O in most cases.

    As for your ‘kicker’, it is not meant to be connected to an RS232 port obviously. I have used it for PIC to PIC, or other low voltage level communication. There are many small circuits to convert it to true RS232 levels using the MAX232 or other similar chips. I did not put on a MAX232 as I feel the USB port is sufficient, it adds extra cost, and then you could not connect it to 5V serial devices.

    If you or anyone else would like to discredit or find flaws in my entry, please post it on my website. I feel I followed the HaD contest rules completely, and their suggestion of a PIC programmer/dev board if you read closely.

  31. Alan says:

    Congrats Nuxie, it is a great looking project.

    What is with all the negative comments? Haven’t you guys heard of constructive criticism…

  32. Mike W says:

    Sorry Nuxie… didn’t mean to be a typical internet a$$hat. It’s just that there were a couple of people complaining, and I noticed that no-one mentioned some details that sang out to me… but, trying not to be more of an a$$hat, let me try some constructive criticism… not that it is at all warranted at this point.

    > Thanks Mike for trying in vain to discredit my >entry.
    >If you spent as much time researching as you did >inding flaws you will see that on 18F PIC’s (or at >east the ones I’ve used), RA4 is NOT an Open Drain.

    Actually Nuxie, I did’nt spent allot of time to discredit your work. The things I saw, I was quick to spot. But, overall I did notice that your design is very pleasing on the eyes. Very pleasing.

    >I have tested my design in both SMD and DIP version, >and all pins function correctly as both input and >outputs.
    O.k. It’s just that I seem to remember, in fact I know that RA4 has bit me before because it was open drain. Things may have changed since then. Also, with the entire port a for that matter, but, like I said, things may have changed.

    >I am working on a full SMD version, however as in >the rules through hole components were preferred so >it is easier to make. Hence why I have SMD and DIP >PIC versions. Also, by vias I meant jumpers for a >single sided board as well. Eliminating them means >it is very easy to make at home through toner >transfer or other methods. It is also hard to find >small quantities (one or two) of SMD parts.

    Actually, you can get SM parts at digikey. I would use 1206 or even 1210 as they are easy to handle. If you went with all SM parts, then you wouldn’t have to touch this board with a drill!!! That would be easier, imho, than the benefits of th parts.
    …at first glance at digikey, 0.1uF 1206 goes for 1 cent a piece and the disc is 2.4 cents. It also appears as thought there are more readily available of the SM than the discs.

    >The PIC has diode protection on all pins inbuilt, >and as it is meant for general use most people will >not need further protection. Same for the analog >port, pull ups are not needed if it will be used as >a digital I/O in most cases.
    O.k. It was just my experience, that when interfacing with other boards, I’ve popped that internal diode many times, and those 18f’s get expensive.

    >As for your ‘kicker’, it is not meant to be >connected to an RS232 port obviously. I have used it >for PIC to PIC, or other low voltage level >communication. There are many small circuits to >convert it to true RS232 levels using the MAX232 or >other similar chips. I did not put on a MAX232 as I >feel the USB port is sufficient, it adds extra cost, >and then you could not connect it to 5V serial >devices.

    How about using two headers for the UART, one before and one after the translator. I find that I talk with RS232 levels more often than TTL UART levels.

    Now, if it’s any concearn of yours, I will tell you that if you are feeling angry with me…, you did get your revenge on me, becuase as I was taking the time to write this, I actually missed an ebay item I had be watching. It went for $50, and they normally go for $200. Dang it. Darn it. Dang it.

  33. Mark says:

    It would have been nice to put it to a vote. Excellent work nonetheless.

  34. Hello

    alert(“Hack a day dot com RULEZ!!! ;-P”);

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